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From The Land Of Milk & Money: A Review Of 'The Fast And The Furious: Hobbs & Shaw'

It may be also known as milking a franchise; but to its credit, it’s Grade A milk, a load of fun and very worth the weight of its two stars in popcorn

To be frank, when I first heard of Hobbs & Shaw, I worried about whether this would be another case of a film franchise, The Fast and the Furious, milking its longevity and sustainability via the spin-off. We can all recall how even in animated features, this Hollywood phenomenon has time and time again resulted in mediocre films best left on the drawing board—like when Despicable Me spawned a stand-alone Minions film. So I was very afraid that this would be a similar exercise of “milking” the golden cow just for sake of money. After all, we’re talking about two recurring, but supporting, characters from the latter F&F installments being given starring roles in their very own film.

 

What do you need to know? Former antagonists Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are forced to team up in order to save an MI6 Agent, Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby), from the clutches of an cyber-genetically augmented villain, Brixton Lore (Idris Elba). No prize for guessing Hattie and Deckard are related, and that her life is in grave, against-the-clock peril as she injected herself with the most lethal of bioweapons in order to keep it away from the hands of Brixton and the shadowy organization who retrofitted this “Black Superman.”


The F&F installments always put a high premium on blending the mind-blowing action sequences with strong sentiments about the importance of “family.” And if previously, the films would define family in a broader sense of the people around you, the ones you work and play with; here in H&S, they get more literal. Besides the Shaw siblings, we also get scenes of Hobbs with his precious, scene-stealing daughter, and in the latter part of the film, the family he left behind in Samoa. These two narrative strands stay true to the tongue-in-cheek treatment we expect from a F&F screenplay, and yet, it imbues the film with a whole lot of heart and unabashed sincerity. 

Directed by David Leitch, the uncredited co-Director of John Wick, and the solo director of Atomic Blonde; the man is a former stuntman, and knows his action films like the back of his hand. Throughout the film, you’ll see sly salutes and references to such films as Mission Impossible, the Bourne films, Sherlock Holmes, Minority Report, and even 300. It’s like Leitch is proud to show us which films have been his favorites and influences. And the nice part is that as we're watching the film, we enjoy these testosterone-fueled sequences so much, we forgive the man for cribbing from these iconic action/thriller films. 


And that’s not to say that he hasn’t come up with some spectacular new concepts of his own. You’ll love the daisy chain of pick-ups and trucks keeping a lassoed helicopter from taking off. And the motorcycle and sports car chase scenes on London streets are a sight to behold. So what if time and time again, the law of physics and physical pain are relegated to the waste bin, there’s just so much to marvel at, and keep your eyes glued to the screen.

There are two strong cameos, and I’d give the medal to Ryan Reynolds. Kevin Hart just barely avoids being downright annoying, as they stretch his scene to the point of us wishing he’d just disappear. As cat and dog protagonists, Johnson and Statham know how to keep the charm quotient up, even when some of the jokes and sniping get stale and repetitive. The big surprise here is the entertaining swagger that Elba invests in his one-note character.


Hands down though, the biggest surprise of the film would be how Vanessa Kirby more than holds her own as Hattie. From the film’s prologue, she’s thrust into the center of the action as a strong-willed, ferocious, no-nonsense woman warrior; and she sustains this in all her scenes. That she’s just as fast and furious as our two main characters in never put in doubt. So if ever these Hollywood producers will opt for a spin-off of a spin-off, put me down as a supporter of a solo Hattie film.


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